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Genetic Linkage

Retiring the Single Gay Gene Hypothesis

The once-prevailing concept of a sole "gay gene" dictating sexual orientation has been put to rest in a powerhouse study published in Science. The work illustrates the nature of science: evolving with the input of new data, especially the large-scale contributions of bioinformatics and crowd-sourcing.

 

"We formed a large international consortium and collected data for more than 500,000 people, comparing DNA and self-reported sexual behavior. This is approximately 100 times bigger than any previous study on this topic," said lead author Andrea Ganna, of the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Finland and an instructor at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, opening a news conference earlier this week.

 

Human Sexuality is Nuanced and Complex

 

The investigation lowers the estimate of the genetic contribution to same-sex sexual behavior, thanks to analysis of a trove of data from the UK Biobank and the consumer genetic testing company 23andme.

I hope that the demonstration of a diminished role for genetics will counter the idea that having sex with a person of the same sex is something biologically broken that needs to be fixed. "Using these results for prediction, intervention, or a supposed 'cure' is wholly and unreservedly impossible," points out Melinda Mills, a sociologist from the University of Oxford in an accompanying Perspective.

 

To continue reading go to my DNA Science blog at Public Library of Congress, where this post first appeared.

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